People often equate yoga with stretching. Over time, I’ve come to think of yoga as a system that helps bring life into balance. For some people that might meant gaining flexibility. Others may need stronger muscles, or to learn strategies to deal with stress or injuries. Through a variety of yoga practices, one can bring balance into the body, the breath, and the mind. Additionally, the tools of yoga can help balance our relationship with our families, work, and many other “off the mat” situations.
I like to teach balancing poses and bring the concept of balance into class around the summer and winter solstices precisely because they are obvious seasons of imbalance (in terms of day length). Even if you find the long summer days to be exhilarating, over time they may become exhausting. Or you may have the opposite schedule and winter is your busy season.
How and what yoga poses we practice during these times can either bring us into balance, or tip the scales even more. For example, I like to bike and swim in the summer. I also tend to get less sleep due to all the light and social events. So I tend to do shorter practices this time of year and I adjust my physical practice to support my activities by doing a slower practice that opens the body parts that I use a lot (legs and hips) as well as poses that quiet the mind (supported postures and inversions).
During July, I’ll continue to teach balance and how it applies to our poses, muscles, breath, and energy levels. By learning about the poses and ourselves we can tailor our practice to suit our lives. Practices change due to injury, interest, season, age, and may other factors. By learning how to tailor your yoga practice to fit your life, you can find balance internally regardless of outward circumstances.